The Toshka project – an ambitious project to create a second Nile Valley, redirecting 10% of the country’s allotment of water from the Nile via a massive irrigation scheme – arose as part of a plan to increase the inhabitable land from 5% to 25%. One of the Egyptian Government’s mega-projects, Toshka and the Southern Egypt Development Project aims to develop. In addition to extending agricultural production, create new jobs and population centres away from the narrow confines of the Nile Valley.

Over the past 20 years, the population of Egypt has risen from 20 to nearly 70 million and it has been predicted that this trend will continue, reaching an anticipated 120 million in the next 20.

The distribution of this population within Egypt is fairly typical of much the rest of the Middle East region. An estimated 60% live in urban areas in cities which are growing faster than infrastructure to support them. While the mounting numbers in rural areas provide a ready supply of new migrants to the towns. This increasing urbanisation of the population places increased demands on the water supply, further exacerbating the problem for a country which is 95% desert.

Toshka Project
Toshka Canal

Construction site (2009) of the syphon that delivers water from the new valley project under the toshka spillway

Toshka Project

In March 2005, the Mubarak Pumping Station – centerpiece of Egypt’s ambitious Toshka Project to reclaim half-a-million acres of desert – named one of the five most outstanding civil engineering achievements of the year by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

In fact, five years and some $436 million in the building. Almost every aspect of the plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Posed significant challenges which ranged from coping with the extreme temperatures of the region to incorporating cost-effective earthquake protection.

In addition to the pumping station itself, the Toshka Project also involves the construction of 50km of main transfer canal. Four additional 22km side branches and 800m of feeder pipeline. The complete development project – originally scheduled for final completion in 2017 – has a final anticipated cost of around $70 billion. Intended to double the region’s arable land. Create 2.8 million new jobs and attract over 16 million people to the new towns planned.